Sunday, August 28, 2011

Zen Lingo: Aversion

Every group has it's own idiomatic phrases and concepts that it uses to ease communication. Sometimes the meaning is immediately clear even if there are subtleties that take some time to grasp. Aversion, at Zen Center, is one of those words. It's used more or less in line with it's dictionary meaning but the subtext of any discussion of aversion around here is a little different than what you might be used to in everyday life. It's actually not unique to Zen Center, I've heard it used in a number of spiritual communities with roughly the same sense.

For starters, Aversion comes up much more often than you would hear in typical North American English, Aversion is a bit of a 50¢ word, people use it when they want to sound fancy. It's also typically considered perfectly normal to express aversion to a person place or thing, though we often use other constructs. So you might say, "I'm having some aversion to work today" in stead of "work sucks" and everyone would understand that you're bitching about work and showing off a little in the process.

Not so in the 'spiritual' sense, Aversion means just what it does in english, "I don't like it!" but the implication is much more serious. Hey, you're avoiding this, maybe you should, you know, look at it and figure out why maybe? There's a call to action included in the use of aversion that is intended to draw the subject's attention to the object and a request to further inquiry.

So when I say that I'd developed a bit of an aversion to sitting, to going into the Zendo even, after my last one day sit, well there was nothing to be done about it but to sign up for something more serious. In between the one day and seven day sittings I clocked exactly one session in the Zendo. Even going into the Zendo was a bit of a motivational challenge, I was helping with the children's program last month and Nancy had to give me a little head-waggle to get me to take off my shoes and go sit down with the kids for all of ten minutes before we headed down to the farm.

The only way to really deal with aversion is to face it and watch what comes up, see what the root of the disgust is and see if it's really something you want to hold on to. Typically the answer is no, though there are times when aversion is well founded, but most of the time you'll learn something important about yourself if you take the time to face it.

That said, I haven't been back to City Center for more than a month. Guess I'll have to face that sooner than later.

Two Peaches

Two peaches in the bowl in the Guest House

One is pure and perfect, ripe and ready to eat

The other is beginning to go, spots of decay and mold

I pick up the pure one, and consider what's left behind

Someone will have to eat that defiled one

Guess the good one is going back in the bowl…